If your espresso machine doesn’t include a steaming milk attachment, you can easily heat and whip your own topping for cappuccinos and lattes with an electric milk frother. In addition, one of these devices can warm milk for a bedtime treat, or froth cold milk to cap an iced brew or chocolate milk.
To find which will create a perfect foamy topping, we chose some of the most popular automatic frothers on the market and bought a whole lot of dairy, almond, soy, and oat milk. It’s a good thing I like my coffee with milk because I downed way too many cappuccinos in search of our favorite!
Our extensive testing found the Instant Milk Frother(available at Walmart for $39.99) is the best at frothing and steaming milk regardless of what kind of milk we used and whether we used a hot or cold setting. Surprisingly, it was also the most reasonably priced
If you’re completely dedicated to foam on your coffee, consider our best upgrade pick, Breville the Milk Café(available at Amazon), which can whip up a larger volume of milk and has lots of bells and whistles.
These are the best milk frothers we tested, ranked in order:
Instant Milk Frother
Breville the Milk Café
Capresso Froth Plus Automatic Milk Frother
Smeg Milk Frother
Capresso Froth Control
HadinEEon Milk Frother
Mirocco Milk Frother
Capresso Froth PRO
Bodum Bistro Electric Milk Frother
Keurig Milk Frother
Breville the Hot Choc and Froth
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This is one of those rare instances when our top pick is also the best value. Although, it’s a mere $30, the Instant Milk Frother creates billows of foam regardless of what type of milk you use or whether you want it hot or cold.
It froths up to a cup at a time which means you can whip up enough foamy topping for a bunch of cappuccinos or cold brews at once. On average it takes about two minutes, which is definitely on the quick side for these devices.
This device has a lot of nice features for your money, too. On the Instant, there’s a handle and a spout to make it easy to pour and create designs of hearts or leaves in your froth. It has four settings for warm foam, thick warm foam, cold foam, or just warm milk.
The inside of the pitcher is coated with a silvery nonstick finish which makes it easy to see the minimum- and maximum-fill markings as well as clean it.
To heat and froth milk, it uses the same paddle so there are no extra little parts to worry about storing and possibly losing.
And if you’re wondering who makes it, this appliance comes from the same innovative company that gave us the Instant Pot, so it’s a reliable brand.
This is the Rolls Royce of milk frothers. All gleaming stainless steel and about the size of a small food processor, the Breville signals luxury right out of the box, and includes a very comprehensive manual complete with recipes. It features an illuminated dial to select a temperature from just warm to very hot—although it does indicate on the dial the ideal temperature range for frothing and steaming milk.
As you would expect from this class of machine, it yields top-notch results—billows of foamed milk. However, it should be noted that the temperatures we recorded in our tests were sometimes lower than the ones featured on the control. There’s also a cold-stir setting that stirs or froths without heating.
On its max setting, the Breville can whip 2 cups of milk, more than any other frother we tested. Its minimum setting is 1/4 cup, which is the most some compact frothers can handle. The Milk Café also comes with an attachment that stirs but doesn’t froth about three cups of milk. Keep in mind that with more milk, it takes more time to froth—sometimes over six minutes.
Other luxe features include a stainless-steel pitcher that’s both dishwasher safe and easy to hand wash, there’s also a measuring cup inside the lid to use for adding mix-ins such as powder, chocolate syrup, or even grated chocolate to make cocoa. The large capacity of this frother also means you can make enough for two or three mugs at once.
The stirring attachment sits on the side of the machine when not being used, and the cord is particularly easy to pull out of the wall socket. As you’ll be spending top dollar and dedicating a chunk of your precious kitchen counter space, make sure you really need such a serious machine before you buy.
Hi, I'm Sharon Franke, and I’ve been testing kitchen equipment for the past 30 years and drinking coffee even longer.
In view of my love for the bean, I’ve made it a point to develop a particular expertise in making the best coffee drinks and the gadgets that go with them—from grinders to brewers to yes, frothers. I have an awful lot of experience with the technology of appliances and know what a great cup of cappuccino tastes like.
I tested 13 of the most popular electric models, evaluating each on its versatility, how easy it was to use, how quickly it took, and how well it frothed both hot and cold, whole and nonfat dairy milk. We also tried a few of our best performing frothers using alternative milks such as almond, soy, and oat milks.
If you’re a bit hesitant to purchase a frother just to treat yourself to the kind of cappuccinos you can order from your favorite coffee shops, being able to use it for other purposes like whipping up an indulgent mug of cocoa or a hot toddy may justify the splurge. That’s why we gave extra credit to ones that can be used with other beverages besides milk.
We considered the clarity and thoroughness of the manual and how easy it was to use the controls and clean the appliance.
When it came to frothing, we measured how long it took to whip whole and nonfat milk and the temperature and volume of the foamed milk. We looked for milk that was whipped to at least half its volume and mounted in peaks. On hot settings, we looked for temps that were not too low to cool off your coffee nor too high to scald the milk and ruin its flavor.
We found a few constants: All of the products left some unthickened milk in the pitcher to pour into latte or cappuccino before adding the frothy topping. Using whole milk yielded soft clouds that we could mound on top of an espresso yet stir in smoothly. With skim milk, we got a larger volume and a stiffer foam. While soy, almond, and oat milks thickened into the consistency of very softly whipped cream rather than a foam.
Handheld and Manual Frothers
There are many different types of milk frothers out there. Handheld battery-operated frothers, like the super popular PowerLix Milk Fother (available at Amazon) have the advantage of being inexpensive and easy to stash in a drawer. Many, but not all, work quite well at producing a large volume of frothed milk with very little left unfrothed.
In fact, when we tested the handheld model from Aerolatte (available at Amazon), it produced the largest volume of any frother we tested and left virtually nothing unfrothed. It even did a reasonably good job with almond and soy milk.
So why would you prefer one of the automated frothers instead? For one, using a handheld frother means you have to heat your own milk, being careful to just warm it without scalding it. To get beyond the softly whipped cream stage takes up to two minutes, and you must hold the gadget the entire time. Many require that you keep your finger pressed on the switch while you’re frothing, making them particularly tedious to operate.
They work by pumping a frothing device up and down. In general, they’re less effective than the ones with batteries. It's a great gadget to add to your arsenal of kitchen tools.
Other Milk Frothers We Tested
Capresso Froth Plus Automatic Milk Frother
A trifecta of moderate price, excellent frothing, and versatility catapulted the Froth Plus high in our ratings. The first time we wrote this guide, we awarded it as our Best Value. While not quite as small or as stylish as others, it can create foamy clouds with whole and skim milks as well as almond, soy, and oat milks. Although it has hot and warm settings, we didn’t always see a big temperature difference between them in our testing.
The Capresso will froth up to 8 ounces of milk at once which comes in handy if you’re making cappuccinos for the whole family. However, frothing takes longer than in other frothers we tested (sometimes almost five minutes in our tests), so be sure to start the Capresso whirring before you make the espressos.
As the pitcher is clear plastic and has large-easy-to-read maximum and minimum lines, it’s particularly easy to fill so there’s little risk of adding too much liquid and wind up with an overflow. If you merely want to warm up cider or cocoa without whipping it and increasing its volume, the pitcher can accommodate 12 ounces—enough for a large mug. Stashed on the bottom of the machine there’s an attachment that heats milk without foaming it, plus an extra frothing disc.
While we did find some milk stuck to the bottom after frothing, you can pop the pitcher in the dishwasher and avoid scrubbing.
This device is definitely an extravagance. With its astronomical price tag, it’s an appliance for people with disposable income who really love frothed milk and have counter space to spare. However, for the big bucks, you get a beautifully designed appliance with a 1950’s retro look that gives great results and sports lots of special features.
The base has a high-gloss finish that comes in your choice of neutral, bright, and pastel colors. The stainless-steel pitcher is nice enough to bring to the table and it’s dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning.
On the Smeg, you’ll find a myriad of settings for warm and cold milk, as well a manual setting that lets you stop the frothing exactly when you want. Other than its cost, our only complaint is that on occasion, the Smeg takes close to three minutes to froth the max amount of a 1 cup of milk.
If you want to froth a large volume without paying top dollar, consider this model which can whip up to 10 ounces at once. It has four settings: hot froth, hot flat, hot chocolate, and cold froth.
Using the “hot froth” setting, it yielded loads of fluffy milk in our testing. However, we didn’t find much value in the “flat hot” setting and got little frothing with cold milk. What is unique about this frother is that you can add chocolate chips or chunks using the hot chocolate setting; about halfway through the setting, the machine flashes to signal it’s time to add them—or syrup or cocoa mix, if you prefer.
Just like the other Capressos we tested, you’ll find stirring and extra frothing attachments in the bottom of the machine and that milk sticks to the bottom. Fortunately, it’s dishwasher safe so you can avoid hand scrubbing.
This frother rivaled our top pick, the Instant, at frothing milk, but costs twice the price. For frothing it only holds a maximum of 9 ounces of milk and there’s just two settings, hot and cold.
However, if you love almond milk it might be worth the splurge as it whipped Silk brandinto almost stiff peaks. To heat milk without frothing, just switch attachments. The one not being used conveniently stores in the lid.
The HadinEEon has a glossy finish with a large stainless-steel bar handle and a spout to pour the milk. We found it easy to see the minimum and maximum lines on its interior nonstick finish.
While it has fewer bells and whistles than any of the others we tested, the compact, well-designed Nespresso Aeroccino3 is simple to operate, the quickest at frothing, and totally reliable for whipping up clouds of frothy milk. When we first wrote this guide several years ago, this Nespresso was our Best Overall choice.
Whether you want hot or cold milk froth, the device excels using both whole and skim milk.
It has neither a handle nor a spout, but the ridges make it easy to grasp, and we never spilled any milk —although creating latte art may be difficult.
Inside the lid, there’s also an attachment for the stirring piece that will let you heat but not froth a larger quantity of milk. The Aeroccino3 is not dishwasher safe, but cleans up easily as milk doesn’t “bake” onto the bottom during the heating process as it did with some frothers we tested. You can only use this model with milk—so no mulled cider—and it only whips up to 4 ounces. But if you’re buying a frother exclusively to make one or two cappuccinos or lattes, this is a great choice.
While it’s not going to win any design awards, the Miroco excels at whipping up whole or nonfat milk into hot or cold frothy clouds fairly quickly. However, at the most it can only froth 1/2-cup at a time.
While the pitcher is textured to give you a good grip, it is thick and heavy and doesn’t have a handle or a spout.
There are settings for heated milk, both fluffy and dense froth, and cold froth and it uses the same whisk for all.
The Miroco also includes a cleaning brush and an extra whisk which is a big convenience as this is a small part that could easily be misplaced. There’s a place in the lid to stash the extra one.
This model is virtually the same as the Capresso Froth Plus except that the pitcher, which holds up to one cup of milk, is metal with a nonstick finish instead of plastic. While this makes it harder to see the fill marks from the exterior, they are large and easy to read.
Just like the Froth Plus, it excels at creating foamy clouds with whole and skim milks as well as almond, soy, and oat milks. It also takes much longer than other models we tested to froth the milk.
This elegant stainless-steel upgrade of the Aeroccino3 is just as compact but addresses some of our concerns. It sports a handle and spout, and it can be safely cleaned in the dishwasher.
It can only froth milk, but it has four settings from cold to hot milk to cappuccino to latte macchiato. And, as there’s one attachment for all settings, you don’t have to worry about changing up the disks or losing the extra one.
Unfortunately, in our tests, it only frothed well on the latte macchiato setting—a major downgrade. More settings meant more confusion, particularly as they are only identified by little icons of coffee cups whose meanings may not be apparent without glancing at the manual.
This small, nicely designed, and reasonably priced device does a great job of frothing up to 7/8 of a cup at once. If you want to heat milk without frothing it, you remove the little spring from the whisking attachment. As it’s a small part, you have to be vigilant not to misplace it.
Its other major drawback is that it only creates warm or hot frothed milk—it has no cold setting. That means if iced cappuccino is your drink of choice, this isn’t the frother for you.
When it comes to frothing milk, this pricey model disappoints. To start, we found it difficult to distinguish the fill lines against the dark nonstick finish. It can froth up to 3/4-cup of milk, but consistently gave us the smallest volume of froth of any model we tested.
There’s no spout or handle on the pitcher. However, grooves around the side help you get a good grasp. With only hot and cold settings, it is uncomplicated to program.
This attractive stainless-steel appliance is deceiving. Although it looks like a quart pitcher, it actually only froths a maximum of 1 1/4 cups at a time. That’s enough to top off a few cappuccinos but it’s billed as a hot chocolate specialist and can only make one mug of frothed cocoa.
On the positive side, it creates a lot of foamy milk and has a Latte setting which results in hot milk with just a tad of foam. It also has a setting for a "Baby Latte" without any explanation for what it is—it’s a whole new term to me. What it did produce was slightly foamy milk that was about 93°F.
This product is exclusively for frothing and heating milk—there’s no cold setting which limits its usefulness. We found it difficult to change the settings as the button is small, hard to depress and sluggish.
Surprisingly for a Breville product, the manual doesn’t give a lot of information. And the pitcher and the lid which contains the stirring mechanism require hand washing.
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